An essential figure of modern painting, Georges Braque was “a French painter par excellence”. As much for his reflections linked to Fauvism as for those linked to Cubism, he marked modern art history with artworks that trace the many French artistic advances of the 20th century… Rediscover this discreet and determined artists through the eyes of 5 of his fellow artists.
De gauche à droite : Maisons à l’estaque (1908), Le Grand Nu (1908) et Route près de l’estaque (1908)
« Here is Georges Braque. He leads an admirable life. He forces himself with passion towards beauty and reaches it, it seems, without effort. »
A great visionary of his time, the poet Apollinaire was the painter’s friend for a long time. With Picasso, they formed THE trio of the Parisian artistic scene. This text is an extract from the preface Apollinaire wrote in the catalogue of Braque’s first personal exhibition and introduces us to an elegant and thoughtful Braque. It was during this exhibition that took place at Kanhweiler’s, Picasso’s dealer, that Braque met the Spanish painter.
« Braque, as if disarmed in front of these things that question him, trying to capture on the canvas for a little longer, the longest time possible, a parcel of all of those things of his and of others. »
Close to Braque, Giacometti often saw him and kept a 30-year-long friendship with him. He wrote a lot about him and from his words transpired a great feeling concerning Braque’s paintings. These words serve to measure the depth of this man’s sensibility and reflection, a shy man who liked to isolate himself to think. Giacometti gave tribute to him when he died by drawing a very touching black lead portrait of the painter on his deathbed.
« Braque is the woman who loved me the most »
In all his exuberance, Picasso refused to grant Cubism’s paternity to Braque. It is however together that they put into place, starting in 1910, the “geometrization” of painting. In radically transforming the notion of artistic creation, that was limited to the imitation of nature until then, they opened the door to 20th century modernity. This affectionate and yet malevolent comment of Picasso reveals all the complexity of their rivalry and the total polar oppositeness of their personalities.
« Braque for me, well, stands at a more or less equal distance to Bach, pronounced the French way, and to Baroque, – with a slight attraction to the second aspect because of the common adjective Braque, which exists too, not my fault, and presents some link in meaning with Baroque »
The poet Francis Ponge considered his encounter with Braque as a turning point in his life and the latter was the painter Ponge wrote most about. They had a fruitful collaboration : Braque illustrated his friend’s poems and in return, he dedicated many texts to him. Here, Ponge describes a half-Bach half-Baroque Braque, an unlikely combination that possibly reflects the genius and restraint of the artist.
« A very gentle and kind man, completely obsessed by his paintings. »
This remark of Man Ray, who met Braque and took a beautiful portrait of him, sums up the character of the painter : his modesty, his methodism, his shyness…